Home » Amazon, Romance » Amazon Publishing buys 1,000 titles from defunct Dorchester

Amazon Publishing buys 1,000 titles from defunct Dorchester

31 August 2012

From Paid Content:

Amazon Publishing has acquired the rights to 1,000 titles from Dorchester Publishing, which closed in February.

Dorchester primarily published romance, Westerns and horror books. Dorchester had been in economic trouble for years. In the auction for Dorchester’s assets — where Amazon was the only bidder, the company confirmed – “Dorchester authors were offered the opportunity to join Amazon Publishing and receive the full back royalties that Dorchester indicated were owed.”

“Working with the Dorchester author community during this auction process has been a tremendous experience for all of us,” said Philip Patrick, Amazon Publishing’s business development director. “We are happy to be able to pay their back royalties and we’re thrilled to welcome them to the Amazon Publishing family.”

. . . .

“Under the terms of Amazon’s bid, any former Dorchester Publishing authors that chose not to work with Amazon Publishing will have their rights revert back to them to pursue other publishing opportunities including self-publishing via the Kindle Direct Publishing platform.”

Link to the rest at Paid Content

Amazon, Romance

14 Comments to “Amazon Publishing buys 1,000 titles from defunct Dorchester”

  1. Well good luck with that.

  2. Am I understanding correctly that they can either get their back royalties or revert their rights not both. Interesting choice. I guess which one makes sense would depend on how much the author was already owed.

  3. “Interesting choice. I guess which one makes sense would depend on how much the author was already owed.”


    Indeed interesting.

    From Amazon’s POV, no doubt they’re playing tough, so they’re going to want it as cheap as they can get it.

    With rights reversals, from what I’ve heard, big pub aren’t too easy going about that.

    Dorchester were bust anyway, so maybe the writers weren’t going to get much there either.

    It looks pretty reasonable on the part of Amazon, from this *readers* perspective. I’d be happy to be disabused of that notion if I’m wrong.


  4. Agreed, it sounds like an incredibly fair deal. I don’t even see Amazon as playing hardball. It’s only fair. They don’t owe the back royalties, Dorchester does.

    They are, basically, offering to buy up the contract (and thus pay for it) or set the author free. As someone above said, which is a better deal would depend on the author, the book, and how much was owed.

  5. Another thing to consider is what royalty rate will apply for the authors who choose to stay with Amazon. Will they be paid the rate they agreed to under the contract with Dorchester, or will they get the standard rate (whatever that is) from the various Amazon imprints?

  6. Unless, I’m not seeing something, this looks very fair. I suspect it is, I’ve noticed that Amazon lately has been upping its image as consumer friendly.

    If you click through, there are some testimonials from some very happy authors, so it looks like this is a very good thing. I imagine it was very frutstrating being a (former) Dorcester author right now!!

    Like John, I’m also interested in the royalty rate. I hope some authors let us know about their deals.

  7. If I recall correctly, there was an entire Saga around the death of Dorchester Publications(?).
    1) Royalties ceased to get paid out.
    2) DP announced they were going to switch to an e-book only model.
    3) DP was publishing books they no longer had rights to.
    4) DP Began selling or giving away($0) copies of peoples e-books, Without EVER having digital rights.
    5) Authors tried to get the unlicensed books taken down, leading DP to take them off of e-book stores…for 2-3 weeks, then resume selling them.
    6) Authors were even opting to give up their back royalties due in order to escape from DP…but were not always able to get out.

    I probably missed a few points in there, but it sounded like a really horrible situation for all associated authors. The fact that Amazon is offering to pay the back royalties if they are willing to stay is a hell of an olive branch. That Amazon is willing to sign over a rights reversal, without a fight, for anyone that wishes to leave is both honorable and considerate.

    In essence they just ended months if not years of a nightmarish situation for a great many writers.

    On the other side of the wall, the AG will tout Publish America as an wronged and injured party.

    I know my choice, but who would You rather side with?

  8. There may be issues on whether Dorchaster had the rights to sell some of their alleged backlist. Horror writer Brian Keene has been having issues with Dorchester for years, and has written some pointed blog posts about his dealings with them.


    I feel for the writers who signed with Dorchester. I really do.

  9. I have a friend who is benefitting from this. Dorch had her books, still sold them, wouldn’t revert rights, and wouldn’t pay her. She’s one of those thousand authors and is thrilled down to her toes about this. Amazon (Montlake division) apparently looked at Dorch’s books (which may or may not have been right), did some math, and came up with a number that pretty much covers what she was owed, She’ll get the check in October. In the meantime, there will be a big push for these books when Amazon reissues them, with royalties to the author (not a clue how much, but at least they will FINALLY be making money).

    Another former Dorch author friend managed to get Dorch to revert her rights before she knew about this deal, so she got left out, meaning she got her rights, but no back money she was owed.

    And some authors simply said “I’m tired of all of this,” and Amazon immediately reverted rights to them (but didn’t pay any back money owed).

    Overall, this is a VERY good deal for all the beleagured Dorch authors, no matter what they chose to do, but especially good for those thousand whose books will now have a new life with a push from Amazon.

  10. OK, clicked through to the article. They had to use the cover from Cassie Edwards??? She was involved in HUGE plagarism scandal: http://smartbitchestrashybooks.com/blog/cassie_edwards_extravaganza/

    Even when they write good things about the romance world, they STILL manage to do stupid stuff. Le sigh.

  11. Well if Dorchester was in breach of contract with some of these authors, they did not have the rights to sell. So Amazon can’t buy something Dorchester didn’t actually own. Of course most of these authors haven’t seen a dime, so they’ll be grateful for what they can get.

    We need to see what books Dorchester sold but given they were selling ebooks that they did not own the rights to I would not be surprised to see they have sold titles they no longer had the rights to. You’d have to have very deep pockets to go up against Amazon. Authors are screwed whichever way they turn.

    • That’s not how it works.

      Unless the authors had a lien on the copyright for the books (which they didn’t), all the authors had was an unsecured claim against a defunct company. They would be in the back of the line in bankruptcy court and get nothing.

      Dorchester had the right to sell the copyrights to Amazon.

      Ideally, authors should retain their own copyrights and merely grant retailers/publishers a license to sell media containing their copyrighted work and split the revenues.

      As an author, your copyright is your business asset. To sell it for a mere contractual right against an entity that could go bust doesn’t make sense unless you’re getting a giant advance and would be happy if you never received another dime from your work.

    • Rae, these authors aren’t screwed, they are very, VERY happy. They either get their rights back (so they can self-pub) or they get their money and sign a new contract with Amazon.

      If there had been a bankruptcy they would have been at the back of the line, but since the company simply went out of business, with no bankruptcy there were no assets that any author could collect ever. The only assests left to the company were the author contracts. It was generous and MORE than generous of Amazon to step in as a white knight. They got a good deal, too. Some of these authors were stars before Dorch messed them up.

      The only ones “screwed” were the authors who either managed to get their rights reverted while someone was still answering the phones at Dorch (which they didn’t in the last few weeks of business) or the ones who elected not to take Amazon’s offer (and they still got their rights back). They’re out money, but they have their work and are free to reissue it as a self pubbed work. Trust me, virtually everyone involved is thrilled with this deal.

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